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A Salute to Primary School Teachers

The average day in a Primary School Teachers life?


Maybe not but the last 24 hours have given me enough respect for my son’s primary school teachers to make me want to drop to my knees and praise whoever it was who inspired them to take up the profession.


24 hours ago my son was performing at St Kilda’s iconic Palais Theatre in a show that could only be described as massive.


Every one of Elwood Primary School’s 800 odd students shook, rattled and rolled and blew the packed house away.


The show kicked off with the aptly named teacher’s band “The Yard Duty Birds and the Yardettes” who donned an array of dazzling, if sometimes bizarre, costumes and let loose with a medley of old favourites. The fact that they were each responsible for a class both on and off stage yet somehow managed a performance as well is not only a testament to their dedication and professionalism, it is a testament to their spirit. These teachers were prepared to put themselves on the line and show the kids how to have fun. That’s what I call leading by example.


Anyone who has presided over a primary school age birthday party (and needed a strong drink afterwards ) could only be in awe of the Elwood Primary teachers. These teachers wrangled year groups of 90 or more revved up kids from Prep to Grade 6 on and off stage, somehow managing to keep them quiet in the process. They kept them in line, literally, as they guided them onto the clever tennis court like markings on stage. Costumes and props for 800 performers were organised and embellished the sometimes glittering performance. As well as all this, the teachers were responsible for sitting with their classes and marking rolls before and after the show.


All in day’s work?


Some people seem to be blind to the dedication of their children’s teachers. Their expectations are out of sync with the evidence before them. No one in the audience at the Palais could be anything but impressed with the effort from the Staff. Not unless they were on their phones instead of watching.


Each Year Group performed 4-5 songs from the Sixties led by a red hot parent band and supported by singers, dancers and  production co-ordinators. A running narrative performed by the students provided a framework for the whole show. We were taken on an musical excursion through the decade.


It was a blast, man!


Everything from Bombora to Wipeout to Favourite Things to the Batman theme. It was like a giant Rock Whiz without the quiz.


Apart from the musical achievement and the sheer scale of the show, the thing that stood out was the sense that everyone was having a ball.


Hundreds of kids working in unison on stage creates an energy that you can almost touch. When they are all in sync with the songs and the concept it transcends mere school concert and becomes spellbinding. The next day I was still buzzing when I received a call from the school.


My son had an episode in the playground. A seizure.


I rushed to the school to find the teachers surrounding him, offering support whilst the ambulance officers revived him. The very same teachers who had been dancing around the stage at the Palais the night before were now deeply concerned for the welfare of my son. A number of them were clearly shaken by what they had witnessed. In some ways a seizure is worse for the witnesses than the patient. I was struck by the combined staff’s calm efficiency in this crisis. As we were whisked away in the ambulance I couldn’t help but reflect on the range of skills teachers are called upon to display.


One minute marshalling, cajoling, performing. The next offering love and support to a stricken student.


That afternoon I received phone calls from a number of concerned teachers checking on my son’s welfare. The first call was from the Principal. The last that night came well into the evening. There were others in the morning.


Talk about above and beyond the call of duty.


I know there are those who are highly critical of teachers. They think teachers don’t do enough or aren’t sufficiently dedicated to their children. They place extraordinary demands on teachers and are outraged if one of their children performs below par. This, they assume, is the teachers, not their, responsibility.


All I can say is that anyone lucky enough to be in the audience for Forever Young witnessed a school community performing way above par.


They continued to do so in my son’s hour of need.


I am Forever Grateful.

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© 2020 by Ned Manning.